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Hemming is a sewing basic. A simple finished edge gives any sewing project a clean, professional look. But what to do when you need more out of your hem than just a finished edge? Which hem style would function best? That’s where we come in!

Our new Hem Construction Techniques Video can be your go-to hemming style resource. With demonstrations of 10 different hem applications, this video starts with the basic single hem and works its way to more specific projects, like making a hem for a drawstring sleeve or strengthening an edge for grommet installation. Watch the entire video to learn a variety of hemming techniques or jump right to the relevant chapter.

How to Finish an Edge – Hem Construction Techniques Video

Popular Hems

Single Hem: A quick, easy hem for when only one finished side is required.

Rolled Edge: Simple, easy hem that creates a finished look on both sides of the fabric.

Double Hem: Popular hem that creates a finished look on both sides of the fabric. Strong enough for fasteners and grommets.

Bound Edge: Popular on biminis and dodgers and finishes both sides of the fabric in one easy step. Strong enough for fasteners and grommets with facing or when reinforced with webbing.

Taped Edge: Great for tarps or trampolines. Sturdy enough for large grommets and provides a clean, thick border on each side of the fabric.

Hem with Drawstring: Perfect hem for bags or cinch covers. A drawstring is secured inside the hem for a clean, functional finish.

Hem with Awning Rope: A hem that doubles as a fastening system! Simply attach awning rope under a double hem and secure with a row of straight stitches.

Check out Sailrite.com for a complete selection of fasteners, installation tools, bindings, and all other materials featured in this video.

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Accent pillows are a great way to accentuate the style and decor of your living room, patio, bedroom, or boat interior. They are quick and simple to sew and can be easily customized with decorative piping, fringes, zippers, and buttons in a variety of shapes and sizes. Pillows don’t require a lot of fabric and can be a great way to use scrap material.

Sunbrella® now has decorative piping and fringes that are a perfect match to their upholstery fabrics! Watch these videos to learn how to use Sunbrella Decorative Piping or Sunbrella Decorative Fringes on your next throw pillow or upholstery project.

How to Make a Throw Pillow with Fringe Video

How to Make a Throw Pillow with Decorative Piping Video

We always recommend Sunbrella® Upholstery Fabric because it’s fade and stain resistant making it perfect for families, pets, and sunlight. Sunbrella Decorative Piping and Fringes also feature Sunbrella’s 100% solution-dyed acrylic yarns making for a beautiful long-lasting finishing touch to your pillows and upholstery.

Vinyl Window Installation Video

After you select a window material for your application, you’ll need to learn how to install the vinyl window. Windows are often added to enclosure fabric side panels, bimini tops, or even dodgers after they are constructed for increased visibility and lighting. Just recently, we filmed this step-by-step instruction video on how to install a vinyl window in canvas. It will walk you through the process of installing a vinyl window in an existing canvas or vinyl fabric panel. Learn more at Sailrite.com.

 

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Although we’re almost certain you’re out on the water enjoying the beautiful sunshine, we thought you might appreciate a guide to selecting the right window material. We frequently get asked the question: “What window material should I use for my project?” Whether you’re working on an enclosure, dodger, sunroom or windshield or adding a window to your bimini or sail, you’ll need to choose a window material.

There are several elements to consider when selecting a window material:

  • • Optical Clarity
  • • Scratch Resistance
  • • UV Resistance
  • • Stain/Chemical Resistance
  • • Hand
  • • Price

Sailrite offers a variety of window materials, and although several of the materials are interchangeable in application, each brand has a varying degree of each element that may help you make a more informed decision. For a quick reference guide and brand comparison chart, view our Window Material Buying Guide PDF by searching (#300087XHT) at Sailrite.com

O’Sea® & Strataglass™:  Premium press-polished clear vinyl with exceptional optical clarity and UV durability. Coated to provide a scratch and chemical resistant barrier. O’Sea has a soft and flexible hand. Strataglass has a medium hand and is semi-firm.

Regalite®, Crystal Clear & Kal-Glas: Press-polished clear vinyl with excellent optical clarity and good UV resistance. Average scratch resistance and little chemical resistance. Regalite has a soft and flexible hand. Crystal Clear & Kal-Glas have a medium hand and are semi-firm.

Plastipane: Economical polished clear vinyl with good optical clarity. Very soft, very flexible, and comes on a roll.

How to Install a Window

After selecting the right window material for your project, you’ll need to install it! Follow these 5 easy steps to install a window in a canvas project or sail.

  1. Cut the window material to your desired window shape.
  2. Baste the window in place with seamstick over top the fabric.
  3. Sew the window in place using V-92 or V-69 thread and the appropriate needle size.
  4. Use scissors to trim away the fabric from the window.
  5. Bind the raw fabric edges with binding (optional).

Summer is here and that means outdoor picnics, dinner parties, and entertaining. A tablecloth is a simple and easy way to add a nice touch to your outdoor living space. The great news is that your lovely tablecloth can be weather and fade resistant, easy to clean, and easy to make all at the same time!

We’ve put together a quick how-to video on making tablecloths and placemats featuring several different types of materials. It can be as simple as cutting out the right size and/or hemming the edges. Plus we have a great idea on how to keep your tablecloth in place.

Recommended Tablecloth Materials:

Naugahyde® Universal

  • • Durable
  • • Fade and weather resistant
  • • Leave outside all year-round
  • • Cut with scissors (no sewing necessary!)

Sunbrella® Upholstery Fabric

  • • Fade resistant
  • • Stain resistant
  • • Easy to sew
  • • Great color and pattern selection
  • • Use indoors too!

Recommended Placemat Materials:

Sunbrella® Sling

  • • Flexible mesh
  • • Fade resistant
  • • Chemical and mildew resistant
  • • Unique patterns and textures
  • • Cut with scissors (no sewing necessary!)

Phifertex®

  • • Flexible mesh
  • • Fade resistant
  • • Easy to clean
  • • Cut with scissors (no sewing necessary!)

Make your own tablecloth and placemats for a beautiful (and long lasting!) addition to your outdoor living space!

Something as small as a needle can make a big difference in the actual sewing and outcome of your sewing project, but choosing the right needle for the job can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the different needle types and sizes.

Here is a simple 3-step process to determine which sewing machine needle is the best fit for your sewing project. Hopefully this will shed some light on sewing machine needles!

Step 1:  Needle System

Identify which needle system fits your machines. Your sewing machine manual should provide the required needle system. Here are the needle systems that are used with our Sailrite sewing machines:

  • 135×16 or 135×17: Ultrafeed, Sailrite 111, Big-N-Tall, Professional
  • System 130: Home sewing machines (flat shank), Yachtsman, Apprentice
  • 135×5, 134DI: Sailrite SR200, Long Arm
  • 16×95 or DBx1: Sailrite Sailmaker

Step 2:  Needle Type

Choose the right needle type for your application:

  1. Round (Sharp) Point: is the most common needle type and can be used for canvas work, sail work, and all general sewing. Sharp point and completely round shanks (without burrs that cause broken stitches and separations in thread strands).
  2. Ball Point: is specifically designed for sewing knit fabrics and stretchy materials like neoprene, Ultrasuede, and mosquito netting. The blunt point preserves the elasticity of the fabric by allowing the thread to pass between the fibers of the fabric rather than through them. Completely round high quality upper shanks.
  3. SD1: is optimized for fine leather, leather clothing, and heavy sailcloth assemblies. Cutting point is smaller than a DI needle. Partially cuts, then pushes fibers out-of-the-way.
  4. DI Leather: is designed and optimized for working with heavy, dry, or hard leather. Blade cuts the fibers so that the needle does not have to separate them.
  5. Serv7: is designed with an optimized scarf shape for sewing through heavy fabrics. Perfect for use with Tenara thread (#14 or #16 recommended). Reinforced blades help avoid skipped stitches and reduce needle breakage. Generally needle size can be one less than normal.

Step 3:  Needle Size

Select the appropriate needle size. Sewing machine needle sizes are listed by size and measurement (in mm x 100 above the scarf). For example, a #12 (80) is a small needle while a #22 (140) is a very large needle. Needle size is directly associated with the type of material being sewn. In general, the heavier or thicker the material, the larger the needle you’ll need. Remember sewing machine needle sizes are the complete opposite of hand sewing needle sizes!

Sailrite has compiled a Thread and Needle Recommendation Guide PDF, if you search (#300032XHT) at Sailrite.com, that lists a variety of materials and gives our best suggestions on needle and thread types and sizes.

High quality sewing machine needle are available at Sailrite.com.

Zipper Plaques

Zipper Plaque Installation is the fourth video in our Sewing Zippers Video Series. A zipper plaque is basically a zipper sewn on the box seamed edge of a cushion that is used to insert or remove the cushion foam. There are two different techniques for sewing a zipper plaque on a boxed cushion. The first zipper plaque technique demonstrates a standard zipper plaque installation with a two hems that split in the center of the zipper. The second is a hemmed zipper plaque technique with a hem that covers the entire zipper.

Visit Sailrite.com for more project tips and all your cushion supplies.

Rip Zipper Approach

The Rip Zipper Approach is the third video in our Sewing Zippers Video Series. The rip zipper approach is a zipper installation method often used in long bags (like a sausage bag or rip bag), sail packs, and furling sleeves where the ability to grab one end of the zipper and rip apart quickly is beneficial. Watch this how-to demonstration on creating both a single-end rip zipper and a double-end rip zipper.

 

A hatch cover is an easy way to protect your hatch window, keep the sunlight out, and eliminate additional heat build-up inside your boat. Lucky for us, it just so happens that making a hatch cover can be a very simple sewing project!

We patterned a hatch cover to fit the square hatch opening of our Seaward 24. It features Sunbrella fabric and Tenara thread, both of which are UV resistant, so the hatch cover will last for many years. Although there are several different ways to design a hatch cover, we decided to use a leechline drawstring to secure the hatch cover to the hatch.

How to Make a Hatch Cover Video:

Watch this step-by-step video demonstration on how to make your own drawstring hatch cover for your boat.

Materials List:

  • Sunbrella® Marine Grade Fabric (your favorite color of course!)
  • Thread
  • Leechline
  • Barrel Lock Closure

You’ll also need a sewing machine and perhaps you’d like using a Soapstone Pencil for marking on Sunbrella fabric.

If you don’t have a square hatch opening, we hope this can be a good starting point for your own custom design.

Join the conversation! Leave a reply below with your comments, questions, or suggestions.

Although a home sewing machine was not designed for handling the demands of sail and canvas work, for those of you who “KNOW” your sewing machine, here are 3 major ways to improve your home sewing machine’s performance. (For those of you not as technically inclined, either ask someone else to tweak your machine, or start looking for a machine that can handle thicker materials.)

Increase Power

Stop Balance Wheel Slippage

Increasing power does not necessarily require a new motor. Much of the penetration capability of a sewing machine is tied to the inertia that is created by the rotation of the balance wheel. That inertia is wasted if there is any slippage of the wheel on its shaft. To prevent slippage, remove the single screw in the rim of the clutch knob that is in the center of the balance wheel. This screw is intended to prevent the clutch knob from coming off when it is loose (while winding bobbins). Unfortunately, the screw can also limit the extent to which the knob can be tightened. If the knob can be tightened after removing the screw, the three-pronged washer under the knob should be rotated 180° (remove the knob, pull the washer off, rotate 180° and put everything together again — note that the two inward facing prongs should be bent away from the machine toward the base of the clutch knob).

Increase Balance Wheel Inertia

Just tightening the clutch knob may provide all the extra power needed, but if more is required try increasing the weight of the balance wheel by wrapping it with the adhesive backed lead wheel weight material (designed for use with magnesium wheels) that is available at most automotive supply stores. The more layers added, the heavier the wheel will become and the greater the inertia it will afford needle penetration.

Improve Stitch Quality & Consistency

Improving stitch quality and consistency usually means increasing upper thread tension and improving the ability of the machine to feed fabric accurately (cutting down on the need for user assistance in the feeding process).

Increase Upper Tension

When sewing thick and tough fabric, a good deal of upper thread tension is necessary in order to pull the knot up tight against the bottom of the seam and into the cloth. Moving to a larger needle is one way to improve this matter since that needle creates a larger hole into which the knot can be pulled. But this should not be carried to an extreme since larger needles require more penetration power and also since larger holes in canvas can lead to seam leakage. So it is a good idea to increase upper tension if possible.

Many home machines have a limiter in the upper tension knob that prevents more than a single turn of adjustment. If this is so, figure out how to overcome it. In some machines, the knob can simply be pulled off leaving a small nut that does not have the limiter. Indeed, there may be a small tab in the knob that can be removed with side cutter pliers — when the knob is pushed back in place it will turn without limit. This increased range may give all the tension needed. If not, disassemble the upper tension and place washers under the “beehive” spring to compress it more so that it exerts more friction on the thread running between the tension disks. Of course, it is also possible to replace the beehive spring with a larger one if a local hardware store can be found with a good selection of springs.

Improve Feeding Accuracy

When sewing large sections of heavy fabric it is sometimes difficult to keep the spacing of the needle penetrations equal. In zigzag, the stitches can look like an accordion. This is not functionally significant but it does look less than professional. There are a couple of ways to improve the ability of any machine to feed fabric accurately.

1. Increase Pressure Down on the Fabric

The “presser foot” on the machine is a sled that holds the fabric down. The actual feeding is done by a dog on the bottom of the fabric. The first way to improve feeding consistency is to push down harder on the dog. There is often an adjustment at the top of the machine to increase spring pressure downward on the presser foot. If this is at the maximum it can often be increased by taking the mechanism apart and either replacing the spring with a heavier one or inserting a sleeve of copper tubing to act as a spacer to compress the current spring harder. Note that too much spring pressure will keep the feed dog from rising above the throat plate and thus not improve matters at all so don’t get carried away with the pressure you use.

2. Raise the Height of the Feed Dog

Normally the feed dog should rise above the throat plate about 3/32-inch or so. If it is low, feeding will be impaired and, in some cases (with soft or spongy fabrics), feeding can be improved by raising the dog above this normal height. It is a simple matter to raise the dog. Its up and down movement is driven by the front most shaft under the machine. There will be a clamp on this shaft with a lever that does the actual movement. Loosen the screw that locks the clamp on its shaft and twist the lever so it raises the dog higher. Turn the machine over by hand to make sure that the dog is not so high that it hits the underside of the throat plate.

Make Your Machine More Usable

Here are some usability tips that make sewing sails and covers much easier.

1. Sew on the Floor (if possible)

If you can put your machine on the floor this gives the effect of a huge table. It is not easy on the knees, but it will make the work go faster and easier. We like to keep our left knee on the floor. The right knee is against the chest and the right foot can be used to control the speed of the machine. Thus, two hands are available to control the cloth and help it through the machine.

2. Sew Parallel Seams

Avoid sewing “around” things like windows or batten pockets, patches, or numbers and insignia (side note: adhesives have improved to the point where it may not necessary to sew those in place). Whenever there is sewing to be done, plan on making parallel passes. Roll the sail up on the closest edge and sew along the roll. Then roll some more and sew the next parallel edge. Begin and end each stitch with reverse stitches so they do not ravel. This helps even with very short seams like those found at the diamonds in reef points.

3. Use the “Stagger Sew” Technique

When you have to get a lot of cloth through the arm of the machine, try using the “Stagger Sew” technique. Stuff the sail in three or four inches then sew that three or four inches. Stop sewing and stuff another few inches then sew again. Cloth is, after all, flexible — take advantage of it! Although this method may take a little longer than sewing one long seam, the fabric will be much more manageable and your seam lines will be more accurate and consistent since you’re not trying to do everything at once.

These are some simple things that can be done to make sewing sails and canvas easier on your home sewing machine. If you find that your machine just doesn’t cut it, it’s time to look into one that does! Visit Sailrite.com to learn about our amazing sewing machines.

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